Since atherosclerotic plaques are small and sparse, their non-invasive detection via PET imaging requires both highly specific radiotracers as well as imaging systems with high sensitivity and resolution. This study aimed to assess the targeting and biodistribution of a novel fluorine-18 anti-VCAM-1 Nanobody (Nb), and to investigate whether sub-millimetre resolution PET imaging could improve detectability of plaques in mice. The anti-VCAM-1 Nb functionalised with the novel restrained complexing agent (RESCA) chelator was labelled with [18F]AlF with a high radiochemical yield (>75%) and radiochemical purity (>99%). Subsequently, [18F]AlF(RESCA)-cAbVCAM1-5 was injected in ApoE-/- mice, or co-injected with excess of unlabelled Nb (control group). Mice were imaged sequentially using a cross-over design on two different commercially available PET/CT systems and finally sacrificed for ex vivo analysis. Both the PET/CT images and ex vivo data showed specific uptake of [18F]AlF(RESCA)-cAbVCAM1-5 in atherosclerotic lesions. Non-specific bone uptake was also noticeable, most probably due to in vivo defluorination. Image analysis yielded higher target-to-heart and target-to-brain ratios with the β-CUBE (MOLECUBES) PET scanner, demonstrating that preclinical detection of atherosclerotic lesions could be improved using the latest PET technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25081838
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

ID: 51599620